The simplicity and beauty that is Side Project Brewing is something that I was immediately drawn to when learning about the brewery. The elegance and fluidity of the font and lettering plus a logo that uses very little to say so much. This branding effort and commitment to style is made possible by Tim Bottchen. It was a unique perspective and insight into a new focus on label and design for us here and it has set the bar high for future episodes. Enjoy the opportunity to learn a little bit more about one of the most saught after breweries in the country and the man who makes them look so good doing it.

AJ:                  Hello and welcome to another edition of this 16oz Canvas, the Art of Craft Beer Podcast.  Really excited to have with us today Tim Bottchen checking in with us via St Louis, Missouri and we came to learn of Tim through his photography and work that he's been doing with  Side Project Brewing and thank you so much for making the time to join us today Tim.

Tim:                Thank you AJ, pleasure.

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AJ:                  Awesome, so yeah Tim and I have been e-mail tagging back and forth for a while and I was telling Tim that we really love the work that you're doing with Side Project.

I think that the labels are really simple and beautiful and I also think that part of that and the elegance and the time that goes into those beers, I think that you do a really great job of representing that elegance with the photography.  So, I just wanted to thank you for that and that really is kind of what drew me to trying to track you down.

Tim:                Oh thank you very much.  Yeah that's a -- that’s a big part that goes into the design is trying get a sort of the simplistic elegance to it that can sort of match beer and then yeah our photography we just kind of try and -- try and showcase the beer itself and not get too crazy with it and let that label and hopefully the pure essence of thebeer come through.

AJ:                  Yeah and one of the -- one of the -- we're beer agnostic and the beers I have had from Side Project have been amazing.  Unfortunately when I say unfortunate for me, they're just extremely difficult to get hold of and I do love my -- usually you have to give up your first born to get some Side Project.  So, I do -- I do love my son too much as we were just talking about to make that deal but I met some kind folks and the beer speaks for itself, it's incredible.

Tim:                Yeah I've heard that quite a few times and usually whenever I do get into a conversation with people, that’s usually the second or third thing they bring up is, how did they get some Side Project beer.  So, it's funny I'm not really a beer trader.  I am learning so much more about the beer being this close to it especially with some other great breweries in St. Louis, but it’s always interesting hearing that from different parts of the country and frankly different parts of the world of how people come to taste Side Project and enjoy their beers. 

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AJ:                  Yeah, it’s -- that’s how I got started.  This whole thing was the beer trading, but the more I've done it, while I enjoy it it's kind of becomes -- it becomes a lot of work and it's great because I think that it allows people to learn about different beers and stuff like that but it just becomes -- it just becomes a lot just logistically even just -- I look around my house and I have just obscene amount of like mailers and Styrofoam and other nonsense that I just don't, you know, my kid's get into it once in a while. 

So, that’s kind of fun.  It’s like the pop the bubble wrap and stuff like that but other than that, I don’t know.  I've definitely weaned off in the last like six months to just -- it's not that I don't enjoy the beer and just like I don't know.  I get a little burn out the end of the day and then come home and like make a little makeshift like packing center in your house.  It just becomes a little crazy.

Tim:                Right, I could see where that would become work.

AJ:                  Yeah exactly, it's beer and so you’re kind of just like oh like I can go -- I mean I’ll try -- I’ll drive like an hour or so to get beer at the brewery and get the -- fill up or something like that I'm like okay.  I'd rather do that than like have to like negotiate in like what's the like the NASDAQ weight of this beer versus that. 

It's hilarious in and of itself because my wife has finally come to a point where I think she just kind of has given up on the ridiculousness of it and now I'm not doing it as much.  So, I don't know if I cracked that case and now I'm like yeah, all right.  I'll go back to it eventually I guess.

Tim:                Sure yeah, that’s why I say, I guess I am humbled to be this close to it and get to experience a lot of great beer, but it’s just -- it's always fascinating when I get to go like when I go to the Cellar and there's something really that’s going on or at the brewery and just kind of sit down and have a beer and meet some other people and a lot of people were traveling and a lot of people were traveling for other people and they’re making trips to come and taste some of the beer.  It’s really cool to hear those stories.

AJ:                  Yeah that's my favorite part of it is the communal aspect of it.  So, that's why I do enjoy that going into the Cellar which is just a cool way of saying like a place in my basement  -- I've come to learn -- I can say like, when I do this, I say oh we and it's really just me, but since I do so much stuff I can say we and then I then I say Cellar and people like oh wow.  I'm like no, just like -- it’s just like a metal,  a metal shelving that I got at like Home Depot in the corner of my basement next to the treadmill, but it sounds much cooler.

Tim:                Hey, it’s a Cellar to you.

AJ:                  Yeah, exactly I mean that’s literal.  I'm definitely not misconceptions but back to you now.  If you head to Tim's website, Tim Bottchen T-I-M and then the T’s are silent, B-O double T-C-H-E-N dot com, there's just some great photos there especially I love them yeah.  I love The Avett Brothers so to load Tim's page you see a great photo of The Avetts there and then  Mumford and Sons.  So, those are two concerts I've seen and I've seen it numerous times.  That was just warming to see that.

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Tim:                Yeah I got to say I haven't updated my site in quite some time but yeah, I will -- I was very heavy in the photography for quite some time.  So, that was just -- those were the last two shows that I shot and that's kind of another outlet that I try to do you.  I've always been a big music lover.  So, once I got into being able to shoot shows that I was going to anyway, it's really -- it's really a great time and it's a huge rush to be able to get that close and shoot some of your favorite bands but yeah, then I have a whole section that has a lot beer photography on there then -- and then mostly is Side Project.

AJ:                  Yeah one of the other things I've learned is that the busier the artist, the last updated is further and further apart and I always I think it's -- I see it as a good sign and it's like because every time I mention okay, I try to promote you.  So, I mention the website and so I was like, "Oh I haven't updated that like nine months" and it’s like all right. 

Well, you know, it's cool like we’ll get you -- yeah, I mean I think probably the best way to see your most recent photography or kind of just like in your moment, is your Instagram which is Beeslo.  So, bees like the B-E-E-S-L-O and that's probably the best way to follow kind of along with Tim in real time but which is a great insight instead and I do love that look at things and I do appreciate it, so that's great.

Tim:                Oh, thank you yeah.  That’s kind of a fun little day to day thing and I also tell people like if you go to Side project dot com like our Side Project Brewing dot com.  So, brewery’s website, the -- all of that photography and all that label work, is all stuff that we done together with the brewery and it’s -- that is more up to date definitely than anything else that I work on.

AJ:                  Right, exactly because you're -- they’re busier than ever and so in turn when you're the photography, label, website guy, you definitely don’t have much time to build your own stuff up in Art.  Formally the art director of there which is great.

Tim:                Yeah I got to keep -- got to keep the clients up to date more so than yourself.

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AJ:                  Right yeah exactly and if you don't have any clients and I always say if you’re doing daily updates onthe website or new layouts, every couple months it's like you might need -- you have a little too much free time on your hands there.  You should -- you should get back to the grind.  Now, can you give us kind of the Tim Bottchen elevator or like the story like how you got into art and photography, a little montage going back?

Tim:                Yeah, that’s always been since I was a kid.  I was always drawing and coloring and painting and all that as a little kid.  Never really -- seems like everyone does when they're really small and some of it just falls wayside for others and it just never did for me.  So, my parents always saw that and always kept me involved in the arts and outside art classes sort of to develop those skills. 

That was my focus when I went to high school, when I went to college.  I went for a degree in graphic design... bachelor in fine arts emphasis in graphic design and even as a young kid, even through grade school and high school, I always had a camera with me.  My dad is really the one that taught me the love for photography.  He always had a great camera and he was always shooting.  I have three siblings so he was always taking photos of all of us and so I think I got my first 35 millimeter when I was maybe 12 or 13 years old.  I always did disposables and then jumped into digital.  So, in college I was learning illustration and graphic design and also taking photography classes.  So, that's actually when I met Cory, was in college. So, we became great friends and we've been best buds ever since. 

So, once we got out of college he started home brewing and I went into advertising.  Worked as an art director for probably a good decade.  Always did more and more photography with that role and then just over the last couple years, I kind of switched to full time with photography and you know, Cory started home brewing and it was funny.  We only lived a couple blocks from each other and we -- he'd do homebrew days and then we'd be tasting these other kind of craft beers that were coming out. This is -- geez over 10, 12 years ago and so he -- whenever he started building his brand and doing his own thing through Perennial, you know, I jumped on board with him and started doing his branding with him and then as more and more beers started coming, more label designs, more photography and then obviously he went out on his own.  Started building his brewery and their tasting room.  So, that kind of brings us up to date in a nutshell I think.

AJ:                  Excellent, now you worked with him at Perennial also?

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Tim:                Yes, so he was essentially like a gypsy brewer at Perennial if I'm getting all my terminology right in the brewery realm.  So, he started doing -- he started brewing his beers at Perennial on the side and so those kept getting bigger and bigger and then it got to where he shifted all his focus to Side Project and eventually left Perennial and built his own each brewery and tasting room.  So, Karen runs the tasting room.  She got that going few years ago and then the brewery just opened up.  They're coming up on a year now.

AJ:                  Oh wow, it's -- that crazy to realize it is such a short lived experience there.

Tim:                Right yeah but, you know, he's been releasing beers for however like three or four years now.  So, all of the label designer, photography was all kind of happening quickly as he was growing while he was still brewing at Perennial.

AJ:                  Awesome, now what is your -- the process?  What is your process from -- for making the labels?  How do you -- how do you design them?

Tim:                Yes, so whenever we started like I say -- so I have a heavy background in brand building as you’d say so working as an Art Director.  I worked on large global brands and big campaigns and so I kind of saw things that how these larger brands operated especially at packaged goods.  So, I kind of brought some of that knowledge in with Cory when he started brewing.  So, we kind of segmented some things out.  So, we had certain beers that were going to -- so everything is aged in Oak under the Side Project brand. 

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So, there's certain lines that were in wine barrels and there are certain lines that were in whiskey barrels, you know, the wine barrels were more the lighter Saisons and then he had heavier stouts and porters and all that better in more of the whiskey barrels and spirit barrels.  So, I was thinking it as lines of products.  So, for -- if it's going to be going this route, then we’ll have this look at feel to the label and if it's going to go this route, then will have this darker sort of heavier look and feel to the stouts and then -- so that's how I try to just start building these lines and they've been working pretty well. 

He does so much blending that now some of the lines are blending themselves but yes, so I would kind of try and figure out his background for the beer.  What kind of beer is his brewing?  What is he doing with it?  Sometimes we get to taste it along the way.  Does it have any fruits to it?  Does it have any certain backgrounds to it?  Are we trying to, you know, give homage to a certain old style of beer.  So, there is a lot of thing that -- a lot of things that went into the research and then that's when I would actually sit down and start sketching and start designing to get into one of those certain lines.  

From there, that's when I would start putting together some options, then him and I would bounce them back and forth.  There's a lot of heavy illustration and lettering that goes on with some of his beers.  So, that sort of takes some time but once it all comes together, we've gotten down a pretty good process now that he kind of knows.  I can always know where I am wanting to go with it and he’s learning more and more about what he wants and we're just getting more and more aligned on what the label should look like for the beer that he's producing.

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AJ:                  Excellent, now the Missouri Wild Ales with the fruits on there, are those -- are those drawn?  Are those photographs obviously with your mix media?   I was curious.

Tim:                I actually get that question a lot.  So, it's sort of a combination of both.  So, we have shot quite a bit of fruit and what I do is I usually photograph and style the fruit in a certain way, will photograph it and then there's a little bit of -- little bit of Photoshop work that goes on there and what we're doing is, we're just kind of adding a little bit of illustrative quality to it.  That was kind of the thought was in the very beginning like, should we try drawing these out or -- so then I just started messing with photographing them and then adding a little bit of illustrative quality to them to the edit and being that they're so small there on the label it's kind of fun because it's just a nice little shot that fruit that on the inside of the beer is just exploding with that fruit but on the outside we just little one photograph of it.  It has a little illustrative quality to it but yeah, to answer your question, yeah it's a little bit of both.  A little bit of sketching and drawing on top of a photograph.

AJ:                  Yeah, I think the -- that’s -- yeah I understand what you're going for conceptually there.  I think it really -- it really works because it definitely it's blurred,  they're very clear but you know what I mean like they very -- it stands out on its own.

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Tim:                Sure yeah and I guess that’s why I get that question often as people are trying to figure out how it was actually done.

AJ:                  Yeah they're -- I think they’re -- the simplicity is something I really love and especially even jus with the -- a lot of the empty space on the label.  It doesn't for a beer that's so delicate and takes so much time to make it's really just kind of -- it’s really nice to see that, you know, how it just stands there and just kind of pops and it's -- yeah, it’s really nice.  

Tim:                Yeah, it's fun and now he’s getting into some magnums and so it's funny because now we're getting bigger and bigger with those photographs and illustrations.  So, I got to double check on my details when we go that big.

AJ:                  Oh yeah, right.  I think they’re scalable yeah right like I made this perfect for this size, what are you doing?

Tim:                Right like dammit Cory, you’re making magnums now?

AJ:                  Yeah, excellent. Now did you design the light bulb logo?  Was that -- did you do that?

Tim:                Yeah, so that was -- that was a lot of fun like I said, whenever he started his Side Project like he was literally -- him and Karen would prefer to it as a Side Project and we were talking about what he wanted to name the actual brewery and we played around with a bunch of different names and he's been -- everything was working in barrels and all of this oak aging and a lot of that have to be in dark areas.  So, we were just playing around with a lot of different things and I believe the Cellar -- so the Cellar is the name of their tasting room that opened before the brewery. 

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So, it’s called the Side Project Cellar and it’s a quaint little tasting room that's just a couple blocks from the brewery and so that was actually -- I think we dabbled with that as the name of the brewery too at one point and the light bulb was always this essence that Cory had in his mind.  So, I was trying to draw out what he had in his mind about his brand and I was trying to bring that to life on paper.

So, it's fun to go back and look at my sketchbook where geez that it's going back.  I don't know maybe six, seven years now and it's got all these little handwriting notes of him and I talking over beers and little sketches of light bulbs and doors and lettering and all that kind of stuff.  So, it’s fun to go back and look at that stuff.

AJ:                  Yeah, especially the fact that you guys are close friends and been for so long.  It's nice to hear to -- you’re able to bring his vision to life visually and him also allow you to kind of steer that with your brand identification and your branding skill set.  So, it's really complimentary.

The first bulb @sideprojectbrew #WHPidrewthis

A post shared by Tim Bottchen (@beeslo) on

Tim:                Yeah and that -- I mean that's a big challenge for all creatives.  I feel like everyone is trying to bring to life what their clients have in their head and the more you listen, the more you are in tune with that person and that client, the easier it is to bring those ideas to life and a lot of times is like wow, I can't believe you did this.  So we’re just kind of working off of what you had, you know, so we're just bringing to life what they had in their head.

AJ:                  Now do you find it's easier or more difficult because of like how close you guys are?  Probably now it's much better, but early on, was it?  Was there a little more butting heads because of the comfort level versus a typical client relationship?

Tim:                No, I don't -- I don't think so.  He gave me a lot of liberties in the beginning and -- but yeah, being that it was more a blurred line between friendship and client.  So, it was -- it wasn't as formal but there were a lot more check-ins.  So, like with the normal client right now, I would put together my presentations for each round and all the stuff in between are creative but with Cory, it was literally like texting these little sketches here and there and it was him drawing out stuff, it was me drawing out stuff, so he can draw. 

So, I don’t know if you knew that but him and Casey did a collaboration together and they drew each other’s label.  That’s pretty funny but no, it was a -- we didn’t have didn't have any issues at least on my end in the beginning and yeah, it became very fluid now and I think what helps is the amount of communication that we do have.

AJ:                  Okay.  That’s good, you know -- you know, .  I was going to ask about the Casey Side Project collaboration's and that the hand drawn, hand drawn labels there -- it’s kind of cool to know.

Tim:                Oh man, is was fantastic.  I remember whenever they were chatting about that and he goes, you know, we got a new beer.  He always tells me, he always have like a laundry list -- here are the beers that are coming, start thinking about this and I think Jammy was the -- or Leaner might have been the first one.  He’s like, you don’t have to worry about this, I'm going to draw this one and I just kind of started laughing.  He’s like no, I'm serious.  I went and bought some colored pencils and Troy is going to sit down and draw his and I'm going to draw mine.  So, that was fantastic.  So, those are -- those are probably two of my favorite labels and that I haven't even done anything on them.

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AJ:                  That's great, yeah you should show one day like, I got the brewing today man, don’t worry, I got this. I’m good -- I'm good yeah.  I got -- don’t worry, I’ll do the tasting today, it’s fine.  We’re good -- we’re good.

Tim:                Yeah.  Oh that’s great.  Yeah and I actually recently started working with Troy on some things and it's just funny that he's making -- he had some adaptations to Jammy and Leaner coming.  It's just funny I got to work on his labels too.  So, I’m working on both of those labels and I haven’t done really any of the art work for them.

AJ:                  Well that’s great yeah.  I was -- and that’s another brewery, I love also.  They’re really great.  I have a friend of ours goes to -- goes to Colorado every summer.  So, it was -- it’s always nice to get a few of those, they’re delicious.

Tim:                Oh yeah, for sure.

AJ:                  Now the hand drawn lettering, is there -- do you have almost like an alphabet that you have fully done or is that, you know, do you already have each letter laid out, the kind of the capital and the lower case depending where the names go or how’s -- how do you set that up making sure that those --

Tim:                So, when we started -- yes, so when we started that, there was a base font that we purchased for commercial use and it was sort of what we were looking for.  It was good a base for very elegant scripted font. And so, what I started doing was -- and I don't know if you are  familiar but you can kind of break down fonts and do your own lettering off them. 

So, that’s what I was doing it’s sort of spelling out somethings especially beer names and then and in Illustrator -- I was illustrating over them kind of adding these embellishment and sort of these scripts that kind of go on and intertwined together. 

So, at this point, with as much beer they are brewing and the different types of beers, and the different names.  I almost I’m -- I think I’m at the point where I have everything, almost every letter that I have done in some way shaper or form as upper case, lower case intertwined all that stuff.  So, yeah now it’s like puzzle pieces putting it together and making sure it works.

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But it’s just so much fun because it’s such a -- it’s such a fluid font.  It’s just so fun to put together whenever, I know Cory has like I said this laundry list of things in his head of the beers that are coming and they working on names and then whenever I get those names I just -- it just starts going in my head like oh yeah I’m going to have this kind of flow through here and have this blend in here so it’s a lot of fun and it’s kind of become a little noticeable thing for Side Project.

AJ:                  Yeah.  I think -- actually I’m looking at the -- if you got to the sideprojectbrewing.com you see the beers and a nice little subtlety I just picked up on while discussing with you, is there -- the beers are in alphabetical order which are kind of maybe that’s when we maybe you think of that question when I was talking to you it’s kind of --

Tim:                Yeah.  It’s gotten to -- there are so many beers it’s like how are we going to organize this?  That was another thing too thinking about it from the design stand point whenever we were putting together the page.  So we have the wine barrel fermented / aging and then we have the spirit barrel fermenting / aging.  So, it’s kind of like how do we classify all these?  And they are like shit, let’s just do alphabetical order.

AJ:                  Yeah, because it sounds like oh A, B.  I’m like oh this is going -- I’m like how is it weird coincidence and then like oh this is in alphabetical order.  Yeah.  Way to go AJ nice work.  Now, from a kind of a project management or an organizational stand point which I think is kind of underappreciated sometimes.  What is the process there?  You said it gives kind of a list of names to think about --- how much time is it from Cory saying  this new beer is going to becoming out to when the label has to come out.

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Tim:                That does kind of shift so obviously Side Project all has a little bit of aging to it especially if there’s any fruits involved.  There’s a lot of finessing to the tasting and knowing when the beer is going to be ready and then so, now at least if I get the background of the beer I’m going to know a little bit of where it’s going to fall and the design of the label but then we have to think about printing.  So, we got to -- we work with Prime Packaging and Adam has been fantastic with us.  He’s gotten to be to where -- I can just text him and then Cory can just get on with him and get on an email chain with him and we can work out when things need to be printed and how he needs to get the files.

We kind of need to work backwards from that think about when they want to release it.  So, we kind of think about a release day, we work back and getting it printed get the bottles labels.  So, with Side Project I get a good few weeks maybe even into a month or so now with Shared, those are quicker turn beers and so we are under the Shared brand those labels need to go a little faster because the beer doesn’t sit as long and they are kicking that out sometimes days within canning or bottling.  So, that is a lot tighter and those are the ones who are kind of like okay this goes to the top of the list this needs to be worked on within the next day or two.

AJ:                  Okay.  Then for folks at home, one of the cool things was learning about Shared and there is a great a blog post by Cory just kind of -- I know to me that was really, it was touching because obviously in business you want to have the best employees and the best folks who work for you, present company included.  So, the idea that to see that and support individuals' growth and not see that as impacting their brand and supporting them.  I think it’s really just wonderful. 

It was just kind of really insightful to me.  It kind of gives an overall theme of,  without having met Cory and his wife - that kind of that overall vibe of what’s going on there.  I just thought it was really -- I just thought it was really nice just to read that.  It was just kind of -- it was, I don’t know it was touching in a way.

Tim:                Oh, very much.  So, I’m just glad you pointed out AJ a lot of people ask what Shared it is about and I don’t even try to chop it up at all.  I usually send people to that blog post because like you said it’s very much a heartfelt thing and they describe it so well there that it’s the best way to understand what they are doing with that brand

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AJ:                  Yeah, I was -- I mean I was just kind of like trying to figure out and I was excited selfishly because okay now they have cans and the fits into another avenue  to talk to Tim about and was just excited becauseI was like well now Tim is also doing cans like he’s got this additional level of versatility we can talk about.  Then I was like but what is Shared, I’m like what’s that all about?  So, we go there I mean it’s just some simple post that’s said Shared and it wants people to take some risk.

It wants to kind of give them -- in a way gives them a safety and a trust to explore and evolve as individuals and professionals and so it’s really -- it’s very rare to see that.  I mean because like I said, when you start your own business in a way you can be very self-centered and not like in a negative way but you are just trying to make sure that you are maximizing and have the best.  So, to not only see that but to I guess to be a brand that’s called Side Project to see, that’s kind of  of itself to be or to evolve out of something else.  So, I guess in a way, it’s very natural thing and so that name Shared is simple again but it’s really cool.

Tim:                Yeah and Side Project not that it’s been around so long but it’s very established in its branding and in its sphere that it’s been brewed under. So once Shared came along it’s been so much fun to explore these different things and Tommy and Brian are brewing some other beers under it and then some of the other employees they are even brewing some other beers under it and just having a lot of fun with different recipes and then also what it looks like, what it sounds like.   So, some of the branding is really taking some risks with some different color schemes and different naming conventions and that sort of thing.

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AJ:                  Yeah, now, can you give a little insight into the logo?  What’s with the it’s --

Tim:                Yeah, so that’s what so what -- so whenever -- that was another thing.  Whenever Cory and Karen started talking about this new brand I had to really --I had them sit down and explain it to me because I didn’t understand any of that.  So, once I got a grasp of it, then I started that was my first question I was like what do we want this to look like and what do we want it to sound like and what do we want it to convey. 

So, once I got some background on it we started talking about names and I believe I was Karen and just, you know, she kept saying how she was how everyone was sharing when I came into this brand and I think it was her that just said, let’s just call it Shared and so as far as the look and feel, we talked about how this is going to be a lot different than Side Project -- Side Project from a branding stand point is sort of rustic at times and it’s very refined also in some of the lettering, it’s very fluid.  It has an established look and feel, so we looked at some things we might contrast that.  We looked at some bolder colors, we looked at bolder shapes sort of geometrics and when you look at the actual Shared logo it’s actually a little nod to this whole process behind Shared.  So, it’s sort of a stripped down a version of a building a geometric building with another building behind it.  So, it’s sort of the brewery giving another one and another one and another one.  So, it’s sort of yeah nod to Shared.  So, it’s not somebody putting into it and it’s growing and it’s continuing to grow.

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AJ:                  Thank you for sharing that I love again, I love the simplicity of it --- to me it looked -- I saw the side ways of the view of it I don’t know if it was steps kind of like a building block aspects to it but yeah.  I really like it metallic kind of how the labels have that like golden, silver shine to them and I don’t know if they are cells or honey combs but there's that kind of feel, the simple geometrics that are kind of part of the your background also.

Tim:                Yeah.  That’s another thing that we kind of pushed the label process they can look very bold and simple from afar but when you get close we have a lot yeah we have some metallic backing, we have some matte coding, we have some varnish.  There’s a lot of different layering’s to those labels that have some nice little subtleties when you are actually holding then in your hand and then when they condensate and get some water on the outside they look fantastic so again that’s a nod to our partners at Prime, they do a great job on our labels.

AJ:                  Yeah, I had never thought I would know so much about labels than I do so.  To see that to know that like again I mean just take a couple steps recently I’ve kind of had another level of an epiphany, is just that breweries and taking that extra step with the labels and having artists and designers take it to another level. 

It’s another level of investment on a product that’s not perishable and also it’s so has a short shelf life.  I mean obviously if we cellar it  we can spin that off all day but, it’s these things that all this extra level of details in something that when this -- when your product is fully enjoyed it’s gone so it’s really to me it’s really a thoughtful and extra level of detail that gets lost once it finished.

Tim:                Oh sure, yeah.  And I’m sure you’ve talked to plenty of brewers and they can go on for days and days about their brewing and their process and their beer and yeah some people -- some breweries do some investment in their branding and their design and all that and if you talked to a designer that’s working on those beers, they’ll talk to you for days and days about the label that wraps around the outside of that beer.

AJ:                  Yeah it’s great.  And even some of the labels I mean looking at one of the beers on the websites the Double Barrel -- Derivation -- and I’m butchering --

Tim:                Derivation yeah.

AJ:                  Derivation yeah.  I don’t have that on my hand but you can -- even just from the photographs you can see that there’s, you know, the image is raised in some of the the label work there it's really, it’s really again I hate -- I hate calling it simple Tim because I feel that’s a minimizing word but I just think it’s really simple how it's the background depending how you look at it, you know, if you look the photograph at the website, do it a really great justice it’s because the one angle of it you just see the glowing, you know, cellared light bulb but the when you look at it you can see the raise background of it and actually when you hold it, you can feel that.  So, I just, I love the simplicity of it.

Double Barrel Derivation by Side Project Brewing

Tim:                No I think simplicity as a compliment and I think Cory would too that’s sort of a tangent on where that regular Derivation label is.  So, if you look at regular Derivation next to it Double Darrels Derivation, we were trying to simplify it.  We lifted all the elements to the design of the bottle and said how do we strip it down to be the simplest form and still show that it is Side Project and that it’s a ,you know, I don’t know if Double Barrels Derivation will come again.

So, it’s one of the top beers that he had as far as his time and investment.  So, that’s where we want we wanted to show that way.  So there’s a hot foil, gold stamp the light bulb embossed in and then there’s a barrel that has been embossed behind it and it is a very thick matte finished paper and then its black wax dipped and it’s just a very beautiful looking bottle once it’s finished.

AJ:                  Yeah.  I mean I know it’s a bottle but it looks really sexy like it’s really great.

Tim:                Yeah.

AJ:                  Excellent.  Now you mentioned that you are only working with Casey, are there other breweries that you are working with?  I mean you seem pretty busy at it is but I’m always curious.

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Tim:                Yeah.  I mean it comes here and there are some other breweries that I’ve done a little projects for I recently got hooked up to with Foeder Crafters and I do a lot of work for them.  If you are not familiar they are here in the St. Louis area and they build the wooden foeders that a lot of breweries and, I guess, some wineries and distilleries are using now too.  But I do some photography for them and then I also kind of contract out for some different beer publications like Beer Advocate, I did projects here and there for them, photographing different beer related projects that are in the area.

AJ:                  Oh excellent.  Yeah, there was definitely the Foeders have been -- have become a growing trend yeah.  They’re popping up a lot at breweries as they are kind of the next level thing.  So, it’s cool to see that.

Tim:                Oh yeah.  Definitely it’s very fun working with those guys.

AJ:                  Excellent, now, obviously working for this great brewery, what are your -- has definitely had some perks and even in your bio on the website it says, you know, find you with one hand having a beer and the other hand with a camera.  Which is funny because knowing the website you know, it’s kind of funny that’s your bio, as the guy who puts everything up on the website.   So, I think that was good for a laugh.

Tim:                Yeah, I actually, I think I asked Karen to write my bio.

AJ:                  It’s a good move

Tim:                She came up with that line yeah

AJ:                  Yeah it’s good, Karen is killing it right? 

Tête de Cuvée by Side Project Brewing

Tim:                Oh yeah like, talk about perks it is -- they two very educated and smart people and they run their business very well and I feel like they just create this energy that attracts great employees and a great culture.  Clearly, I’m not like a full time 9:00 to 5:00'er there but I do go in there quite often, and it is just fun, you know, helping out with the releases or helping out getting something prepped for an event or just hanging out not helping and drinking and taking pictures.  So, there are a lot of great perks and I do get to taste a lot of great beer and that’s what funny is I am by far the least educated when it comes to beer especially in that group of people but that just means that I learn so much every time I’m there.

So it’s just great popping in there like on a Thursday or Friday afternoon and they are testing out a new beer or they are popping bottles to taste something that has been sitting for a little bit.  It’s just, it’s fantastic to get there, to get to sit there and drink and soak in all that knowledge of all of the brewers, the bartenders, all those gals that run The Cellar are super, super smart and every time I go in there I just kind of tell them to give me something that they like and what they have been drinking lately and I get to soak it all in.

AJ:                  It sounds like a great place to be, and I agree.  I think that people make the experience even better.  I know what I like for good beer but I can’t, I feel much more comfortable talking to designers than I do to brewers which I have kind of come to learn, because I went to school for business marketing and I did some work with bands and when you are at those earlier stages it’s kind of all hands on deck.  If you are the best web guy like or maybe the only web guy then you become the webmaster all of a sudden you know. 

If you are the only guy who knows how to work Photoshop, you might not be good at it but you know you have access to it so then you got to hack something together but I have tried home brewing, I tip my cap, I’ve had several that were volatile and they kind of exploded in the basement but I mean. And that was fun but I mean I can’t talk mash and grain and this, that and the other stuff kind of like -- I kind of cringe at that because I don’t like to be in a conversation where you just have to like smile because I’m not pretty.  So, I can’t just smile and look pretty.  So, I just kind of have to be like let’s hope this works out okay.  Thank you, I like that.

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Tim:                Yeah, that’s where I start asking a lot of questions. I feel like I apologize to the brewers because I am bombarding them with questions of what I am tasting and how it’s like that, why it’s like that.

 

AJ:                  Excellent. Now as I said in a former life I did some music and radio, is there? What is your process like? Obviously you are the live music guys, but when you are creating the labels and designs for Side Project and Shared, are you listening to tunes or are you kind of a serenity now?

Tim:                Yeah, I think it kind of depends on -- sometimes I like to get some things done early in the morning before I get my day going especially with the little one now at home.  She keeps me on my toes so, my wife and I are kind of running around following her but if I get up early enough I like to just have my coffee and listen to some music while I’m going through some designs or even if I do get the time after everyone goes to bed that’s when I put on the head phones and yeah I usually listen to music. 

I do listen to talk radio sometimes, coffee usually in the mornings and then, it’s always fun too if I’m able to drink one of the beers that I’m designing.  So, sometimes we'll go through some little label designs here and there or maybe it’ll be another blend or maybe it’s even a collaboration --- there has been a lot more collaborations recently.  So, it’s breweries that I’m aware of and its breweries that I drink from time to time but I think that’s when I really focus on them.  So, that’s been fantastic. 

So, I’ll sit down and maybe crack one of the beers from the collaborative brewery and you know and then if I’m lucky enough I’ll stop by the brewery when that brewer is there and then him and Cory are sitting there brewing and talking so all of that just sort of feeds into how I am designing so whenever all those starts align it’s pretty fun.

AJ:                  Yeah, that sounds pretty fun to me.  Now if you go to the website you see some of the artists, what kind of -- what artist are you listening to?

The Avett Brothers at Chaifetz Arena

Tim:                Yeah so if you look at some of the bands that I shot, that sort of gives you a feel but yeah The Avett Brothers have always been a favorite of mine so they kind of feed in and out.  I did grow up on quite a bit of classic rock, so that will weave in there.  Recently I have been really digging Portugal, The Man so I like putting them on especially on like Spotify and then I’m finding some other bands that sound similar to that kind of depends on the mood.

AJ:                  Alright

Tim:                So, yeah

AJ:                  That is good because I would say maybe only one or two of the bands on there I hadn’t seen The Weekend yet and which I would like to see and also, Alabama Shakes.  Yeah, those are two that I definitely dig that I haven’t had a chance to check out yet live.

Tim:                Yeah I was lucky enough to shoot, Austin City limits a couple of years ago and that was just fantastic and it was such an over load because its I don’t know however many bands I mean I must have shot 15 to 20 of them a day and it’s a three day festival so that was a lot of fun.

Chance The Rapper at Austin City Limits

AJ:                  Yeah I was going to say I was just thinking like wow all of those bands you have lucked out so definitely could see -- I know how big festivals like that are from, just from a consumer perspective, it’s a definitely intense overload trying to figure how you are going to see everybody.  So, I can only imagine how you’d be shooting all the photos.  Now how does that typically work?  Is it depending on the, obviously the band some but they give you certain number of songs you are going to be in the in the pit for? 

Tim:                Yeah it’s usually, you get hooked up with the publication that is basically hiring you out to photograph for them so that will give you press access to a lot of these shows and then yeah.  Usually the standard is the first three songs, no flash and it’s usually from the pit which is where the security guards are right in front of the stage.  So, it’s literally you're lined up and the band comes out and they let you go in and it’s sort of chaotic because at festivals there could be 15, 20 to 30 photographers depending on the act and they are ushering you around.

Then sometimes it’s one, most of the times it is three songs and then they kick you out.  So, you know, if you go to shoot one band at a major stadium or a show, locally you are lining up and you are all there just to shoot for sometimes it’s 7, 8, 10 minutes and then you get kicked out.  So, it’s very quick it’s a lot of energy.  Even if the band is a low key band you still have to be ready to go and be able to get your shots in that short amount of time.

AJ:                  Yeah, especially definitely, and that’s interesting because some bands start off slow and they build up to the big, more rocking kind of stuff so you have to really capture it.  Now from – I’m, my most camera knowledge is I used to be a -- I used to be a photography teacher at a summer camp. Now, I say that very liberally.

The Weeknd at Austin City Limits

Tim:                Oh, wow

AJ:                  Woah woah. Very low, very limited, it one of the best summer I ever had, and I worked this summer camp, and they needed -- It was -- I was a counselor and it was like okay we need specialists and I was like uhhh.  They said we’ll pay you more and I can teach photography for the summer.  So, I mean obviously it was young children.  So, like the level of expectation was pretty low but it was -- I mean that was when I -- it was film and we're probably about the same age but I had my Pentax and they gave me like 12 Pentax.

 

Tim:                Yeah.

AJ:                  And it was, that was one of the best experiences for me in my life yeah.

Tim:                So that was my very first good 35 millimeter was a Pentax yeah.

AJ:                  Yeah remember when right out of college like, when eBay was kind of like, I mean eBay is still there it hasn’t gone anywhere but when it peaked I remember just being like.  I want to get one of those cameras that was like.  That just brings -- like every time I think about Pentax just makes me smile, I feel happy. 

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So, I had one, you know, if I find like an old roll of film like unused somewhere once in a while I just go to shoot it and just like.  It’s such a great feeling but for all the gear heads out there, what are you shooting with? What is, what is in your arsenal I know that’s something folks would probably be very curious about

Tim:                Oh yeah, I do shoot Canon, just because I feel like I started -- like I said my Pentax was my first with my first 35 millimeter and then I moved on to Canon and then jumped on to digital with Canon.  So, I have a 60 at home and a 2470 and then a 7200 I’d say the 2470 is on their 75 percent of the time. 

I do have some primes that I shoot with very once in a while, 35 and 50s.  I have some old film primes that I have adapted for digital and those are fun to play with, especially with the beers because they are not moving subjects so, you can really take your time and manually focus on those and some of that old glass gives a really nice look that digital doesn’t always give. 

And then, I do have access to some other Canons, through work so 5D, Mark IV and the 1 DX that kind of stuff but I don’t, all the bells and whistles I don’t always get into especially when I’m shooting beer, I can really take my time and move my way around so I usually use the 60 and 2470.

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AJ:                  Awesome yeah, your shooting is complete extremes right?  The beer which doesn’t move and you are in control of or like, alright Tim, capture the essence of this artist in maybe 7, 8 minutes --- ready go.

Tim:                Right yeah

AJ:                  Throwing elbows and moving around or just like someone coming in and being like, what are you doing with that bottle? Now do you usually shoot the bottle at the brewery?  Do you have a spot there?  Like a little set up?

Tim:                Yeah that’s fun too is that, sometimes I just walk in there and go to the stock pile of where the finished beers are and then, they have quite a bit of beer on display now.  So, I’ll just grab some bottles and clean them up and kind of, it’s a very big open -- well not very big, it’s an open brewery has a lot of natural lights and then he has some beautiful barrels and like I said, the foeders from Foeder Crafters, they did this great racking system where they are all horizontals and it’s just beautiful Missouri Oak and just kind of -- I go back there and kind of see where the light is, where is it coming in usually later in the day and just kind of play around back there and then, sometimes I go in the tasting room and set up on a table, and get some glasses out or I’ll even go to The Cellar, we’ve shot a lot of product shots over at The Cellar yeah. 

It’s just kind of whatever I’m feeling that day and then I always kind of look at the light to see where it’s hitting and what it’s doing sometimes it’s nice to push that through some of the Saisons because, they have beautiful color to them, especially if they have any fruit in them, it’s amazing what this beer looks like whenever it is poured out of the bottle.  So, if I can get any of that essence through the bottle or in a glass I try and do it.

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AJ:                  Excellent and I noticed on the website there is the nice white tile back drop too which I think is really kind of helps the beers pop in those photos as well.

Tim:                Oh yeah

AJ:                  Definitely, I’m a fan so again thank you so much for taking the time.

Tim:                Oh yeah, it’s been fun AJ. 

 

AJ:                  Well I thank you so much Tim.  It was really interesting and I really love learning about your process and you as an artist and I don’t know the next time I’ll be in Missouri but if I do I will be sure to reach out would love to have a beer in 3D

Tim:                Absolutely

AJ:                  Yeah

Tim:                Yeah that would be fantastic.  Keep up the good work you have had a lot of great articles so far so I’m looking forward to the new ones. 

 

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TIM BOTTCHEN BIO
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TimBottchen.com
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Side Project Brewing
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